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The GOOD, the Bad, and the Ugly of time and attendance technology

As developments in smart technology continue to deliver, time and attendance tools are becoming more sophisticated. Christian Berenger, Managing Director of Ezitracker Remote Workforce Management Technology explores the often negative misconceptions around monitoring workforces.

As developments in smart technology continue to deliver, time and attendance tools are becoming more sophisticated.  Christian Berenger, Managing Director of Ezitracker Remote Workforce Management Technology explores the often negative misconceptions around monitoring workforces.

Following the uptake of tablets, smartphones and wearable monitoring technology and the proliferation of apps available, we are seeing an increase in demand for the latest time and attendance technologies for field-based workers and remote workers.

These new technologies enable employers of large remote workforces such as cleaners and maintenance workers to reduce absenteeism, lower costs via automation, and increase productivity. Often this comes at a perceived price in terms of employee engagement and a feeling of mistrust. 

Feedback we had from many FM providers at the recent Facilities Show, reinforces what I have seen throughout the past decade or so, concerning time and attendance monitoring; FM and Cleaning staff tend to look at it as management implementing a Big Brother solution and managers are unsure how to overcome this perceived barrier.

We know that delivering site-based contracts is costly. Managing huge teams of remote workers can be a huge challenge, but the real benefits to both employees being monitored, and managers monitoring, start to emerge when we all start to focus on the positives that this tech brings. 

Yes it does track people’s activity.  Yes, it does highlight the less productive or unreliable employees, but it also highlights the good reliable employees, those who turn up each day, who consistently clock in and out when and where they are supposed to.  You don’t tend to get that visibility from any other solution. 

Employees who resist monitoring technology are likely to be the least productive workers. With a time and attendance system in place, the staff who consistently outperform are the ones who stand out. This is a major opportunity to highlight the positives and motivate entire workforces. Managers can start to focus on improving staff engagement, wellbeing and productivity and manage the whole employee lifecycle.

Many of our longstanding customers are beginning to introduce gamification strategies which focus on success at all levels of their workforce.  On regional levels, national levels and local levels. League tables focusing on successful service delivery, KPIs, are working, and rewarding effective contribution is encouraged. Gamification strategies result in improved performance, motivation and learning. On the performance side, it drives daily employee goals and engagement. This flipside is rarely talked about.

Results can be shown in dashboards available to managers and communicated internally to all. Good business decisions can be made by focusing on the positive information collected.  This gets staff engaged at every level in the organisation, from site managers, to supervisors to individual workers.

Having an automated time and attendance system in place provides managers with real-time, reliable information on their employees' productivity and enables them to quickly spot any issues – good or bad, and act upon them. This visibility is all they need to implement an extremely effective performance-related incentive scheme.

The ugly side of worker monitoring is seen when companies have accumulated information, but don’t know how to interpret it or what to do with it. This often results in kneejerk reactions which focus on negative information by issuing verbal warnings or disciplinary action.  It’s common knowledge that low paid workers have to be motivated to do more than just show up and go through the actions, or they will simply jump ship at the promise of an extra 20p per hour. High staff turnover is almost expected in this sector where cleaners and maintenance staff are often overlooked, despite them being the most expensive asset.

Imagine a world where 90% of a company’s cleaning workers could become just 5% more productive from feeling happy and valued at work? Imagine if those workers stayed with that company an average of two years longer than its nearest competitors? Imagine that they are all embracing wearable technology that feeds back information on how well they do their job.  – And when they do well, they are rewarded.  Think of it as a motivational ‘FitBit’ for work.

These people are often the most expensive asset, at the forefront of a business, they are what clients see, and if they aren’t leaving a good impression, that ultimately comes back to management.

Once employees can see that accurate data tracking is improving the accuracy of their wages, leading to incentive payments and an understanding of their team performance in a leader board against peers, a cultural shift starts. When supervisors realise that this accurate data enables them to manage their employees better, more efficiently and against their peers, that shift starts to escalate.

Many of our Ezitracker customers have noticed that when employees know that their attendance is being monitored, overall attendance and punctuality generally improves.  Reports and dashboards allow managers to focus on ‘no shows’ and early departures, because they know savings can be made by eradicating lateness’s or early departures.  But conversely, by rewarding employees that are doing the extra hours and increasing productivity and communicating this to wider teams, many companies have achieved significant results.  Those contractors now see employee retention figures that are measured in years, not months.

The sector is under increasing pressure to provide accountability for workers. This, coupled with tighter service level agreements, means that ensuring that cleaning staff are on-site as planned is critical.  Progression in technology is facilitating a shift for cleaning providers to deliver better value by managing contracts and mobile workforces and people more efficiently. It’s easy for cleaning service providers to manage teams of staff across multiple sites remotely, whilst bringing cost savings, and adding to the bottom line by using the data available to create a working environment that drives happiness, wellbeing, loyalty, and staff retention.